St. Louis police offer $100K reward in 4 unsolved child homicides

Jurnee Thompson. Kayden Johnson. Kennedi Powell. Eddie Hill IV.

Their names are among a list of 12 young children and teens killed in St. Louis since April in the most violent summer for children in the city's recent memory. Of those dozen slayings, only one investigation has resulted in an arrest.

Authorities on Saturday offered a total of $100,000 in reward money for information that would help solve four of the remaining 11 cases.

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"This is urgent," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said at a news conference held at St. Louis police headquarters. "Right now, we hope we that we will be able to get information to police today, tomorrow, Monday."

Watch the news conference called by city and police officials below.

The reward money, donated by philanthropists Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, is available until Sept. 1, police officials said. Jimmie Edwards, St. Louis' public safety director, said the couple was "particularly moved and concerned" by the recent spate of deaths.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John W. Hayden Jr. listed the four cases in which $25,000 rewards have been offered, including the death of Jurnee Thompson, 8, who was shot and killed Friday outside a restaurant near Soldan High School, where she and family members had been watching a football exhibition.

Shortly after 7 p.m., multiple fights broke out at the event, police said. Responding officers were dispersing the crowd when, around 8 p.m., shots rang out from just north of the school, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Little Jurnee Thompson was shot to death as she stood in front of a restaurant with family members awaiting their food order," Hayden said.

Three other victims were hospitalized, including two of Jurnee’s cousins, Hayden said. A 64-year-old woman and two 16-year-old boys were among the victims.

Jurnee was a student at the city's Herzog Elementary School, where counselors were scheduled to be in place Monday to help students and faculty deal with their loss, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Adams had attended the funeral of Xavier Usanga, who was killed Aug. 12 as he played in his yard with his sisters.

The Post-Dispatch reported that neighbors told the boy's parents that two men got into a fight about a basketball game. One of the men, an 18-year-old, was critically injured in the shooting.

Malik Darion Ross, 27, of St. Louis, has admitted to firing the shot that killed the boy, federal court records obtained by the newspaper show. Ross is in federal custody, accused of stealing $50,000 from the armored car company for which he worked.

"The challenges the Usanga family have been going through the last 12 days, that's going to be repeated for yet another family," Adams, the superintendent, said. "I don't know that there are words to explain how difficult it is for the families that are hurting, and the impact this has on the community."

The other three cases in which rewards have been offered include:

Eddie Hill, 10, was killed July 19 by a shot from a moving vehicle. According to the Post-Dispatch, he was on the front porch of his home with family members when he was shot.

Kennedi Powell, 3, died June 9 after being shot as she stood, eating pizza, on the sidewalk in front of her home.

Kayden Johnson, 2, was killed April 30 with his mother, Trina’ty Riley, as they hid in a closet from intruders who broke into their home.

"If you or someone else you know may be hiding a shooter, please turn them in," Edwards said Saturday. "Your failure to turn in people that have committed these type of offenses may also cause you to be charged with a crime."

Tips in any of the cases can be called in anonymously to St. Louis Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS (8477) or left online at stlrcs.org. St. Louis homicide detectives can also be reached directly at 314-444-5371.